Plenary Speakers



Ghent University, Belgium         

Title: “Crosslinkable hydrogels tailored towards processing and biomedical needs”

 Sandra Van Vlierberghe is a full-time professor at the Centre of Macromolecular Chemistry (Ghent University) and holds a 20% professorship at the Faculty of Engineering of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). She graduated as a Master in Chemistry with high distinction with majors in Polymer Chemistry in 2003 and received her PhD in Sciences in 2008, both at Ghent University. She has acquired expertise related to the synthesis, modification, characterization and processing of a variety of (bio)polymers including thermoplasts (e.g. polyesters) and hydrogels (e.g. proteins and polysaccharides) for a variety of applications in the fields of optics and regenerative medicine. She is experienced in the field of polymer processing using 3D printing, electrospinning and two-photon polymerization (2PP). Her research mainly focuses on the interplay between light and polymers and how this can further advance the biomedical field.

Sandra Van Vlierberghe authored 107 Web of Science Core Collection cited papers (h-index 23) of which 95 are high-impact journal papers and 11 full papers in international conference proceedings. In addition, she also authored more than 100 conference abstracts. She is supervisor of 17 PhDs, edited two books, authored 7 chapters in books of which 5 were invited. She was invited speaker at 10 international conferences, and keynote and plenary speaker at two international conferences. Sandra Van Vlierberghe is YSF spokesperson and treasurer of the Belgian Polymer Group, editorial board member of the Biomaterials Network and associate editor of Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine. She fulfils several refereeing activities for a number of journals including a.o. Advances in Polymer Technology, Biomaterials, European Polymer Journal, Biomacromolecules. Sandra Van Vlierberghe serves as evaluator for national, EU and international projects. She organized several national and international symposia and conferences including AMBA 2017, IMRC 2015, AMBA 2014, the Annual Meeting of the Belgian Polymer Group (2014) and Biofuture 2011. In 2017, she received the Jean Leray Award from the European Society for Biomaterials.


The Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, GERMANY

Title: “Implementing multifunctionality in polymeric biomaterials for medical applications”

 Andreas Lendlein is Director of the Institute of Biomaterial Science at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht in Teltow, Germany, and Professor for Materials in Life Sciences at University Potsdam.

Prof. Lendlein received his doctoral degree in Materials Science from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich in 1996. He worked as a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997-98 and completed his habilitation in Macromolecular Chemistry in 2002 at the RWTH Aachen University. In 2002 he joined the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht in Teltow and the University of Potsdam. Furthermore, he is honorary professor in Chemistry at the Freie Universität Berlin and member of the medical faculty of Charité University Medicine Berlin.
His research interests in material science & engineering are creation of material functions by design and implementation of multifunctionality in polymer-based materials with special emphasis given to stimuli-responsive polymers, especially shape-memory polymer actuators, biopolymer-based material systems and structured biomaterials. He also works on fabrication schemes for multifunctional materials including integrated processes and advanced manufacturing methods as well as on studies related to processes occurring at interfaces, e.g. biointerface or water/air interface. Biomaterial-based regenerative therapies, controlled drug delivery systems, health technologies and robotics recently are his interests in translational research.
Andreas Lendlein published more than 500 peer-reviewed papers (H-factor: 54), is an inventor on about 300 issued patents and published patent applications, and received more than 20 awards for his scientific work and his achievements as an entrepreneur including the BioFUTURE Award, Hermann-Schnell Award, and the World Technology Network Award in the category Health & Medicine. He is founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Multifunctional Materials (IOP Publishing) and serves on the Executive Advisory Board of VCH-Wiley´s Macromolecular Journals.


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Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, United States

Title: “Controlled Spatiotemporal Signal Presentation from Hydrogels and within High-Density Cell Culture Systems for Engineering Complex Tissues

Dr. Alsberg took a faculty position in 2005 at Case Western Reserve University, where he is currently Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery and serves as Director of the Stem Cell and Engineered Novel Therapeutics Laboratory. He received his B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and Material Science and Biomedical Engineering, cum laude, from Duke University in 1994. He then went to graduate school at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he received an M.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering (1998), an M.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering (1998), and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering (2002). Following his graduate studies, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Vascular Biology Program at Harvard Medical School. His laboratory focuses on engineering functional biologic replacements to repair damaged or diseased tissues in the body. Complex signals implicated in tissue morphogenesis, repair, and homeostasis are used as inspiration for the development of innovative biomaterials for tissue regeneration. Through the precise temporal and spatial presentation of soluble bioactive factors, mechanical forces, and biomaterial physical and biochemical properties, his lab aspires to create microenvironments that regulate cell gene expression and new tissue formation. He’s co-authored over 110 peer reviewed papers and book chapters, and his work has been recognized with the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award, the Biovalley Young Investigator Award from the Tissue Engineering Society International, the Crain’s Cleveland Business Forty Under 40 Award, a Visiting Professorship at Kyung Hee University (Korea), a Lady Davis Fellowship at the Technion (Israel), and election to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows. The NIH, DOD, NSF, the Ellison Medical Foundation, the Coulter Foundation, the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, the State of Ohio and the AO Foundation have funded his lab’s research. He is active in many professional societies, and currently serves on the Americas Council of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS).


Joachim KOHN

The New Jersey Center for Biomaterials, UNITED STATES

Title: “Understanding the effect of biomaterials on cell and stem-cell differentiation”

Joachim Kohn, PhD, FBSE is a research entrepreneur, a multi-disciplinary translational scientist, and a national leader in the field of biomaterials science. In 1997, Kohn founded the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials (NJCBM), which has grown into a collaborative network spanning 25 institutions and 40 laboratories. Research at the NJCBM focuses on design, synthesis, characterization and fabrication of new biomaterials for regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and drug delivery. Kohn has pioneered the use of combinatorial and computational methods for the optimization of biomaterials for specific medical applications. He is mostly known for his seminal work on "pseudo-poly(amino acid)s"- a new class of polymers that combine the non-toxicity of individual amino acids with the processability and strength of high-quality engineering plastics. Medical devices (a coronary stent and an antimicrobial device to prevent infections in pace maker patients) using these materials have been implanted in more than 250,000 patients and are currently approved for use in 46 countries. As a translational scientist, Kohn has 72 issued US Patents on novel biomaterials and seven companies have licensed his technologies. He is the scientific founder of three spin-off companies. Professor Kohn’s selected Honors and Awards: Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award, best patent in New Jersey for invention of the first unique polymer used in the world’s first biodegradable and x-ray visible polymer stent (2017); Health Institute of New Jersey Life Sciences researcher of the year (2014); Inducted into the National Academy of Inventors (2013); Inducted into the New Jersey High-Tech Hall of Fame (2007); Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award, best patent in New Jersey for invention of the first combinatorially designed library of polyarylates (2006); Elected as a Fellow of Biomaterials Science & Engineering, serves as Chair (2004); Elected as a Fellow of AIMBE (2001); Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award, best patent in New Jersey for invention of tyrosine-derived polycarbonates (1999).